Victor Christou naming the Trevor Gallaher
In his will the late Trevor Gallaher (1947), who died in 2001, left over £14,000 towards the purchase of a new boat for the Men’s 1st VIII. A boat was ordered from the world class German boat makers Empacher in early summer 2003 to replace the eight year old Aylings ‘King Olav.’
‘Trevor’s’ first foray into Oxford rowing, wasn’t all that successful. The 2003 1st VIII were bumped on four consecutive days to end up ninth in Division 1. After a brief retirement for Torpids 2004, the boat was used full time for both training and racing by the 1st VIII from Eights 2005 until Torpids 2009. During this period Trevor was bumped only once more in the Torpids of 2009 and chalked up a magnificent 23 bumps in total.
I joined Balliol in 2003, having never rowed before. After an initial year in the 2nd VIII, I found myself slung into the 1st VIII at six (behind a US Navy Lightweight and a St. Paul’s school boy) for Torpids 2005. That term was the term where I learnt to row and the term where the Trevor Gallaher saw its first real success. We achieved blades, moving up five places and bumping within 30 seconds on three of the days.
The next four two years saw steady success for the Trevor Gallaher. Two bumps in VIIIs 2005, three in Torpids 2006 (very nearly four) and one in VIIIs 2006. My most lasting memory of those two years was our bump that never was against Pembroke, right outside their boathouse in VIIIs 2006.
The bump that never was.
The following year was a more sedate affair. Most of our top oarsmen had left or otherwise decided not to row, Torpids was cancelled and so we headed into Summer VIIIs 2007 with probably the least experienced, and race prepared crew, I have ever rowed in. However, we held our own and more, thanks to a big Australian and a German with a penchant for snapping oars. After a nervy first day it turned out that we weren’t in fact that bad! We came very close to bumping Pembroke on all of the following three days. Despite the lack of any bumps, everyone in the VIII felt that we had overcome the odds in a boat that was clearly capable of more.
And then came 2008, almost certainly the Trevor Gallaher’s most successful year. We headed into Torpids with the usual nerves but in the knowledge that we had a strong crew. We ended the week, having rowed five times, moving up seven places and into Division 1. The crew was strengthened further for Summer VIIIs with the return of two lightweights from the University squad. I won’t dwell on the events of that week; suffice to say it wouldn’t have been possible with our now trustworthy boat.
The Trevor Gallaher at Henley Royal Regatta 2008
As well as success in bumps, the Trevor Gallaher has brought the boatclub other successes. It has competed in the Eights Head of the River, finishing ~150th, won at numerous regattas including Chiswick, Bedford and Marlow, and reached the second day of Henley Royal Regatta.
In summer 2009, the Trevor Gallaher was replaced as the men’s newest boat by the generous gift of the ‘Beeland Rogers’ from Jim Rogers. The new boat is also an Empacher and has already seen success, sadly not in Oxford competitions as yet however.
This year has seen a new look to the men’s boat club; an exodus of experienced and talented rowers and an influx of novices. This has naturally led to the question of what to do with the two high quality boats we have in our possession: do you trust novices to row in a boat which is such a valuable asset?
I remember back to those miserable early morning outings in my first year, rowing in a boat that creaked and groaned and felt like it would fall apart with every stroke (and sometimes did). This year’s 2nd VIII have no such worries. They are now rowing in the Trevor Gallaher, coached by me. After so many happy memories inside the boat it is refreshing to take an outside view with a new generation of Balliol rowers. I don’t know if I’m worse at rowing or coaching (hopefully the former) but I trust that the Trevor Gallaher will bring the 2nd VIII as much success as it has previously the 1st VIII.
Chris Wright (2003)
Coming past the boathouses on Saturday of VIIIs 2008